CUPE remembers the following members who lost their lives on the job in 2010:
CUPE 1500, Quebec
CUPE 416, Ontario
CUPE 301, Quebec
CUPE 4239, Quebec
CUPE 255, Ontario
CUPE 873, British Columbia
CUPE 873, British Columbia
Since CUPE’s national health and safety committee recommended its creation 27 years ago, the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job has become an internationally celebrated event.
Sadly, despite increasing awareness of the importance of workplace safety, 2010 saw more workplace deaths for CUPE members than any year since 1998.
Seven CUPE members died on the job last year.
CUPE national health and safety committee co-chair Rex Hillier says he’s disturbed by the high number of workplace deaths this year.
“The fact that this many workers lost their lives at work – that they went to work one day and never came home – needs to be heard by our members and by employers, who can and should make our workplaces safer and healthier,” said Hillier. “The fact that seven of our members died this year really underscores the importance of the date.”
Ceremonies honouring the workers who died will be held in cities and regions across the country.
CUPE National President Paul Moistand National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux will host a ceremony at the National Day of Mourning Honour Wall in the atrium of CUPE’s Stan Little building in Ottawa.
Part of our history
CUPE’s national health and safety committee recommended the creation of the special day in 1984. By 1991, it was officially recognized by the Canadian federal government.
Also known in many places as Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28 is now celebrated in many countries around the world, and recognized by the International Labour Organization and the International Trade Union Confederation.
CUPE national health and safety committee co-chair Dolores Douglas says she takes pride in the fact that CUPE was the original driving force behind the creation of the event, but also notes the real importance of the day. “As much as we are proud of what this day has become, it doesn’t really matter who started it,” said Douglas.
“The real importance is honouring those workers who died, and fighting hard to make sure workers everywhere get the best possible protection.”
As important as ever
While many jurisdictions trumpet slight decreases in the number of deaths, the fact remains that on average, over the past 10 years more than 950 Canadians have been killed each year at work. In Britain, where the population is double our own, there is an average of just 220 people killed per year, according to British officials. Even the U.S., with 10 times our population, has five to six times as many workplace fatalities.
Workplace injury numbers are difficult to know for sure, but Workers Compensation Boards, on average, accept about 374,000 time-loss injury claims per year and the number of actual workplace injuries is estimated to be over one million per year.
In a recent letter to regions and locals, Moist and Généreux offered suggestions for the celebrations and emphasized their importance.
“Putting up the [Day of Mourning] posters, lowering flags to half-mast and reading the workers’ statement at Day of Mourning gatherings in your workplace or community are ways to promote awareness of CUPE’s role in fighting for health and safety improvements in the workplace,” said Moist and Généreux. “We hope that on April 28th, you will join with workers around the world to renew our resolve to demand healthier and safer workplaces.”